Initial Thoughts and Intel on Spurs Trading Jakob Poeltl to Raptors

After much speculation, the San Antonio Spurs have officially traded Jakob Poeltl back to the Toronto Raptors. According to reports, the Spurs will receive a protected 2024 first round pick, a pair of second round picks and Khem Birch.

As I’ve reported on SpursTalk for more than two months, the Raptors have been the team most aggressively pursuing Poeltl. Many other teams including the Boston Celtics, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans and Washington Wizards had offers on the table for the Austrian center. However, with the NBA trade deadline quickly approaching, San Antonio decided to jump on Toronto’s offer of three draft picks.

-A Spurs insider I spoke to late tonight tells me that the Spurs decided to make this trade for two reasons. First, the Raptors offer was the best collection of draft capital that any team was willing to offer. Other teams were offering a protected first round pick, he told me, but no team was also willing to part with a pair of second rounders.

Secondly, the Spurs asked Poeltl which team he’d prefer to be traded to and the Raptors were at the top of his list. Considering that he was drafted by Toronto and he spent his first two seasons north of the border, that wasn’t a surprising answer. The Raptors also have a glaring need at center, which means plenty of minutes the rest of the season for the unrestricted free-agent-to-be.

-The insider also told me no decision has been made regarding whether the Spurs will keep Birch or if they will try to buy out his contract. Birch is a 30-year-old center who has been buried on the bench in Toronto this season. He’s under contract next season at $6,985,000 and that amount is guaranteed.

-Was this a good trade for the Spurs? Before we can answer that, more details of this trade need to be made public. What kind of protections are on the 2024 first round pick? Did the Spurs receive the Raptors 2023 second round pick that would currently be the 39th pick of the draft?

Additionally, there’s talk that the Raptors might add another player to the trade. If Toronto adds an interesting prospect like Dalano Banton to the deal, that could change the calculus. 

For the last calendar year, San Antonio has told inquiring teams that they wanted two first round draft picks for Poeltl. The Spurs didn’t quite get that in this trade but they did add more valuable draft capital to their growing collection. Once more details are known, we’ll take a deeper dive into what the Spurs got in return for their starting center.